Australian boxer Dwight Ritchie passed away on the weekend after a sparring session in Melbourne. He was 27-years-old.
According to Australian Associated Press (via The Guardian), after receiving a body shot from his sparring partner, Michael Zerafa, Ritchie walked back to his corner and then collapsed. Paramedics were unable to revive Ritchie and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ritchie had been helping Zerafa prepare for his December rematch with Jeff Horn. Zerafa defeated Horn in August, claiming the WBA Oceania middleweight title.
“There are simply no words to describe how I am feeling right now,” wrote Zerafa on exclusiveinsight.com (per Fox Sports). “Dwight was one of the most humble people I have ever met. We had known each other since we were teenagers, when we were just starting out in the sport. And for the past 10 years, Dwight and I had been supporting each other inside, and outside of the ring.”
Zerafa said there was “nothing out of the ordinary” about his and Ritchie’s sparring session and that the shots he landed against his partner seemed innocuous at the time.
Ritchie, whose nickname was ‘The Fighting Cowboy’, started his professional career with four straight victories in 2009. Those wins were later ruled no contests after it was discovered Ritchie was fighting while underage.
After those bouts Ritchie went on a 14 fight winning streak, securing the Victoria State middleweight, WBF Asia Pacific middleweight, and OPBF middleweight titles. After a loss to Koki Tyson in 2016, Ritchie won his next five; adding the IBF youth junior middleweight and IBF Australiasian junior middleweight titles to his collection.
His final fight, on August 14th, 2019, was for the vacant WBO Global super welterweight title. Ritchie lost that fight by decision, to Tim Tszyu; son of famed former light welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu. His record stands at 19-2 (4 NC).
Ritchie is survived by his partner and their three children.
A Gofundme campaign has been set up to provide financial relief to Ritchie’s family. That campaign has raised $33,910 towards a goal of $50,000.
A tribute to Ritchie is being planned for this weekend’s Paul Gallen vs. Barry Hall fight card at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.